81 was our neighbour."
By Ranee Mohamed In Thirukkovil,
There were debris and devastation as
far as the eye could see, only the sea was
calm, blue and beautiful. The land was......
refugee camp generation
woolly thinking in bone repair
the scientology volunteers...
children are our future
and cricket talk... (Balder
closer look at Sri Lanka's craft heritage
Talking her way to success
81 was our neighbour."
did this happen to
Living in great expectations....
By Ranee Mohamed In Thirukkovil,
There were debris and devastation as
far as the eye could see, only the sea was
calm, blue and beautiful. The land was a sight.
And among this sea of devastation on
earth were a few people who sat and waited. They were the neighbours
of Baby 81 who was reunited with his parents last Wednesday.
"He was a joyous baby and so were our babies," cried the
woman who sat staring at a huge television set without its glass and
In this scorching sun, these were the
only people who waited. It was not the surroundings that kept them
glued to this hard, broken ground this way: it was the love that
they had for the ones they lost, and the memories of their happy
"Baby is alive!"
"We were so close to Baby 81, I
have carried him in my arms and I am so glad that he is well. It is
hard to imagine though that this little baby could have survived all
this," said Parasaraman. "You will not believe the way the
tsunami came our way," went on Parasaraman. "I heard this
gushing sound and when I looked up, I saw the sea rising higher than
the lamp post. Baby 81 was exceptionally lucky to have survived all
this," he said.
"Maybe my daughter is somewhere
too," said Sinnathamby Maramma, her red rimmed eyes filling
with tears. Her eyes began to scan the miles and miles of
devastation as if expecting her loved ones to emerge from under.
"I lost my daughters and my three grandchildren," said
this woman clad in blue, her clothes blending beautifully with the
sea far beyond and her tears and anguish too had a strange
similarity with the sea.
Velaithan Parasaraman was wearing a
white sarong. He was holding his bare chest with his right hand. His
face spoke of the anguish of his heart. "Ever since the day I
lost my wife and mother, I have been living here amidst all this
concrete," said Parasaraman, picking up the pieces of broken
stone that was once his house and kissing them. "Why did this
happen to us?" he asked wailing. "I know that they will
come back, they were taken by the sea, but I keep expecting them to
walk out of the waves someday," he said.
Rasayagam Vartharajah too was waiting
for his mother and children to come back. "We do not get any
food, no aid has come our way. I am hungry and I am alone," he
said crying uncontrollably.
Time is a healer, they say, but these
people, in tears are still waiting. These are the people who have
lost their families but in their misery, they have united to become
a family that lives amidst the devastation. In a makeshift tent that
they have put up, using gunny bags, they shielded their worn out
bodies from the burning sun that the sea facing threw at them with a
A family almost complete
Inside this tent was chaos, the
television set stood in the pathway. A female dog that fled the
tsunami had come back home to litter. And in this tent were four
little puppies, nibbling at the debris and wagging their tails,
calling the human beings around to play. But nobody was in the mood
to play. The puppies seemed perplexed. 'Strange world, we have come
into,' they probably wonder.
Now the family seemed to be almost
complete, with a dog and all - but what about the children?
In this huge devastated area called
Constable Lane, nature seemed to have been a law unto itself. And
this is where Baby 81 lived - with hundreds of other families.
"There were over 200 bodies from our neighbourhood and they say
that our loved ones were among them," cried the woman, the
sorrow of a mother and grandmother almost killing her.
In these regions of Kalumunai,
Thirukkovil and Pottuvil, the devastation seemed at its worst. Human
suffering was at its peak. There was sadness everywhere. Women with
children lay on the road outside divisional secretariats, their eyes
glinting in the unmerciful sun.
There was no food or drink in sight and
in the refugee camp that lined the road, little children were
crying, the older ones were running holding their trousers to their
hips with their left hands. The camps, hidden away in these
lesser-visited areas were enclosures of exceptionally painful human
suffering, for it was animal life for human beings amidst the
jungles of Akkaraipattu and its vicinity.
The tents in Kalmunai seemed closed
without human habitation and the sun beat down on them. It was hard
to imagine how little children could live inside these tents, with
the sun beating down so hard on them.
In Pinayagapuram, women stood carrying
their children on their hips while the men were trying hard to put
up a temporary shelter.
In areas closer to the sea, women in
desperation had put their little ones to sleep in the sea sand -
there was sand in their eyes and in their mouths too. All this makes
one wonder where on earth to have all the aid gone. Wherever it went
to, it has not percolated to these areas where human beings were
silently crying from their hearts for help.
On the main streets of Pottuvil and
Thirukkovil, even the animals seemed to feel the heat and the
suffering. Scores of buffaloes buried themselves in the scant muddy
waters, which the people seemed to treasure. It was hard not to
compare all this suffering of the tsunami affected to the flourish
As the road snaked its way through the
devastation, it seemed like there was a road in the middle of the
beach, there were clumps of sea sand and sea garbage everywhere and
these concrete pieces now being moved away by huge machinery were
once homes of people.
In the areas of Addalachenai, Thampadi,
Kanchanakuda, Palmunai, Pottuvil and their environs the tsunami's
wrath seemed worst. If there was one thing more painful than the
other, it was the misery of the children and the helplessness of
their parents in having to watch their offspring suffer.
Modest statistics reveal that there are
over 702 orphans from the north and east alone.
SOS not contacted
Meanwhile National Director, SOS
Children's Village, Cedric de Silva when contacted about helping out
the children in these camps said that he is at a loss to understand
why the SOS Village has not been contacted by the authorities.
"We are able to give homes - that
means a family unit with mother, brothers, sisters etc. immediately.
But we have had no response from the authorities," he said. De
Silva went on to say that he as the national director, SOS
Children's Village notes with concern the abject conditions and
sufferings of children in camps, especially in the north and eastern
regions of the country.
refugee camp generation
By Shezna Shums
Lanka is a country that is
facing back to back tragedies. Just when the country's war
that lasted for 20 years was on hold and the affected war refugees
could think of going back to their homeland and restarting their
lives after years at welfare centers, the country was hit hard again
by the tsunami that affected more than 248,266 and displaced more
than 117,302 families.
Now the country not only has to deal
with the problem of war refugees who have been languishing in
welfare centres for years, but is faced with the additional task of
dealing with the tsunami refugees as well.
Statistics from the Rehabilitation
Ministry Statistical Unit and the UNHCR indicate that in 2004 there
were 91,427 families and a total of 352,582 persons internally
displaced by the war.
Those who have returned to their
homeland stand at 378,818 while the number of persons who have
returned to their homeland from India is 15,073.
Some of the districts that have been
affected by the war and have also seen internally displaced persons
Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Jaffna,
Killinochchi, Batti- caloa, Trincomalee, Ampara, Puttalam,
Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.
The districts that have the most number
of internally displaced persons are; Vavuniya with 10,043 families
and 38,950 persons, Mullaitivu with 14,955 families and 58,519
persons, Jaffna with 18,266 families and 63,801 persons and Puttalam
with 66,184 families and 11,880 persons displaced.
No homes built
It should also be noted that with a war
that lasted for more than 20 years, many refugees have been housed
in temporary shelters for a minimum of 10 years while some of them
have gone back to their own lands or districts, but hardly seeing
any homes being built for them by the government. However, the
government provides these people with food rations and an allowance.
But what is significant is the fact that even after such a long
time, homes have not been built for some of these people, and they
remain in welfare centres even after the ceasefire was signed
between the government and the LTTE three years ago.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Vavuniya
District Secretary, T. Thuraisamy said that the main problem faced
by the 2037 internally displaced families is finding land for them.
"Most of these people want land
near the towns and the government does not have such land for them.
So we are inquiring about private lands as well," said
Further he said that the farmers in the
area are complaining of a lack of labourers and even the displaced
persons do not do farming.
"About 200 families have been in
temporary shelters for at least 10 years, while there are 797 others
who have been in temporary shelters for about four or five
years," noted the Secretary.
Presently there are three welfare
centres in this district and 148 members are working in order to
provide the displaced with water, sanitation, electricity and food.
Acting Divisional Secretary,
Akkaraipattu Divisional Secretariat, M. A. Mohideen Gapichai also
pointed out that some families affected by the war are in temporary
shelters and are still waiting to be moved to permanent homes.
Meanwhile in Kalmunai, six schools are
being used as temporary shelters for the displaced people and
negotiations are underway with NGOs to make permanent homes for
these people. Meanwhile Divisional Secretary, Kalmunai District, A.
H. M. Ansar pointed out that in this district there are 1364
internally displaced families by the war.
The internally displaced persons, after
suffering for 20 years because of war, should in fact have seen a
lot of reconstruction and rehabilitation during the last few years
of peace. Ironically, their rehabilitation is yet to happen with the
tsunami refugees getting all the attention.
woolly thinking in bone repair
Otago University researchers have
turned New Zealand wool into a product they
hope will revolutionise bone surgery and given disfigured patients
Working with biotechnology company
Keratec, Sri Lankan Dr. George Dias and Dr. Phil Peplow have created
a mouldable, bone like material based on keratin, a protein
extracted from wool, which they say will help bones heal faster,
cleaner and more naturally.
The material, which can be made as
malleable as jelly or as hard as bone is strong enough to be used in
structural repair, but will gradually absorb into the body as it
encourages new bone to grow, Dr. Dias said in an interview recently.
Broken or damaged bones are currently
repaired using the biochemical extract collagen, metal like
stainless steel or titanium, or bone chips usually harvested from
elsewhere on the patient's body.
Those techniques risked
cross-contamination and infection, often needed follow up surgery,
and even risked being rejected by the body altogether, Dr. Dias, a
former maxillo-facial surgeon said.
"It was a question that just kept
swimming in my mind - there had to be a better way and that was
something I wanted to find out when I moved into academic
work," said Dr. Dias who left surgery in Sri Lanka to lecture
in Dunedin in 1994.
"I was just blown away with how,
once I had an idea what I wanted to achieve, just how easy things
Inspired by human finger nails, which
contain keratin, Dr. Dias teamed with Dr. Peplow, who has a
chemistry background, to see whether keratin could be used in bone
Starting in 2000 their research led to
tests which "showed us, almost straight away that this could be
used, and that it was going to be as good as I'd hoped it would
be," Dr. Dias said.
"There was nothing to refine in
our initial tests: the body just treated it like it was a piece of
detached bone, and simply continued with the normal repair process.
After a while, there was no sign of the material, and the bone was
forming in its place," he said.
Dr. Dias said the material, which was
patented by 2002 and sold to Keratec last year was still being
developed, but he expected it to eventually become
"standard" at hospitals around the world.
The university owned the intellectual
property from his research, but Dr. Dias hoped his discovery would
give impetus to his many other projects.
"Oh, yes, I've got more ideas
where that came from, and I am working now on some that I think will
be very interesting in the future. You have not heard the last of
me," he said.
the scientology volunteers...
volunteers applying 'Nerve Assist' to patients
By Easwaran Rutnam In Galle
Walking along the streets of the Galle
town that was devastated by the tsunami, I noticed some
unusual activity at what looked like a makeshift medical campsite
opposite the District Secretariat.
I have seen medical camps on the way
side at most places devastated by the tsunami but somehow this
campsite stood out.
Curiosity led my colleague and I to
take a closer look, and when we entered the campsite we saw a group
of foreign volunteers in yellow T-shirts apply a technique similar
to massaging on the patients.
However, we were bemused when we
noticed that the volunteers, who had the words 'Scientology
Volunteers' printed on their T-shirts, gently stroke the body of the
patients using only their index fingers.
What sort of massaging is this? We
asked each other. The answer came from Franco Beschi of Italy who
approached us with a smile and invited us to a demonstration.
"We are using a technique called
'Nerve Assist,' which is practiced in scientology to relieve body
and muscular pain or straighten joints and the spine," Beschi
Beschi, who was working with a team of
25 volunteers from several countries stressed that the technique is
not a substitute for conventional medicine but rather one that helps
reduce the recovery time.
"The mind plays an important role
in recovery. Recovery time largely depends on how soon the patient
can stop focusing his attention on the pain," he said.
Beschi says in theory it is the nerve
that holds the muscles tense causing pain and also impacts the
Nerve Assist releases the tension in
the nerves, which in turn impacts the brain and ultimately heals the
pain experienced in the body.
The procedure of the method involves
the patient lying face down on a bed while the volunteer gently
strokes the 12 big nerves which branch out from the spine using the
The process is later applied while the
patient is lying face up. The volunteer later strokes the arms and
legs and repeats the whole process till the patient feels relaxed
The scientology method was founded and
developed by L. Ron Hubbard of the United States who came up with
the idea after intense research while he served the US Navy during
World War II.
Beschi says his team gains satisfaction
when they see patients who walk in depressed with pain walk out
Meanwhile one of his patients from
Galle who was all smiles told us that he had a severe back pain when
he walked in, but feels relaxed and stress free after he went
through the Nerve Assist process.
cannot ignore them just because they are animals"
By Dhananjani Silva
Down the busy
New Moors Street is a chocolate seller who eagerly awaits
some special visitors. "Now it's 3.30 p.m. and this is the
usual time they come. they definitely should come now..." we
hear this seller muttering to himself.
Two chocolates are kept on a side table
- perhaps this must be the only offering this poor seller has for
his guests. "One for the mother and the other for the
baby," he says.
But who are these much-awaited
visitors, we begin to wonder.
Finally, they arrive but to our
amazement, it is not customers who come to meet this vendor this
time, but two goats instead.
"These two goats have been
frequenting my chocolate outlet for nearly one year," says the
owner of the outlet, Akbar. "They not only come to my shop, but
go to almost all the other shops in this street. From here, they go
strait to the adjoining shop to eat hoppers. They love to eat the
pani appa they make," he said pointing his finger to a shop
nearby. "Like that they go from one shop to another till they
are satisfied to the fullest and return to the place where they are
looked after. Although there are plenty of goats in that house only
these two are coming like that Miss," says Akbar.
According to this seller, these goats
are well trained that they do not mess-up what is there on the
table. They also do not mind waiting until they are offered their
much-yearned chocolates. But what do they do when they see a
different face and not that of their buddy? Akbar answers; "No
when I am not here they won't stop to eat chocolates. Then they
would go to the next shop and eat hoppers on a day like that,"
says this kind seller.
Asked whether people harm these two
goats that frequent their shops, this seller says that no body in
this area is that cruel. "But they are sometimes reluctant to
spare the food they have to sell," he said.
"One chocolate costs about Rs.10
and this means that for the two goats we have to spare 20 bucks a
day. Then again we have nothing to do Miss, these poor animals do
not know the value of money. Even if we don't give them the
chocolates, just like small kids who get their things done, they try
to come inside the shop and somehow make us give them the
chocolates," he went on adding that it was the female goat who
trained the kid to make this a daily habit.
In this street there are plenty of
vendors like Akbar who solely depend on their small business outlets
to fill their empty tummies - yet they are willing to pay attention
to these helpless animals - they have the heart to think that hunger
is hunger for everybody, no matter if you are a human being or an
animal. That is why they lend their ears to the innocent pleas of
these dumb animals.
children are our future
children suffer from psychological problems due to parental
By Risdra Mendis
Our children are the future
generation of our country - ironically, the importance of
protecting and caring for our children has taken a back seat from
The rising cost of living and the heavy
workload make parents neglect their children thereby creating a void
in their lives. In fact it is due to the negligence and ignorance of
parents that many children suffer from psychological problems. And,
with the recent tsunami disaster a large number of children have
become the victims of post traumatic conditions.
Working with children suffering from
psychological problems is no easy task. But for Saumya Kodagoda,
helping children overcome their stress and psychological problems
has become a part of her life.
"Our children are the future
generation of our country. If we were to ignore the common problems
faced by these children what would be the outcome of the future of
our country?" asked Kodagoda.
According to Kodagoda, it has been
reported that around one third of the population in tsunami refugee
camps in Sri Lanka are children.
Post traumatic condition
"Many of them are known to suffer
from post traumatic condition. At present many of our school
children suffer from 31 abnormal psychological problems as revealed
by my 43 years of individual research carried out," she said.
"No development work would be
possible and peace in society would only be a dream if these
psychological problems were not addressed soon. Children in tsunami
camps have been provided with food, clothing, medicine and temporary
shelter. However, at present an urgent programme of trauma
counselling is what these children need," says Kodagoda.
Kodagoda has identified that education
of emotions or promotion of wisdom, also referred to as
character-building, is the best way of helping these children
overcome their traumatic conditions.
"In order to help children
suffering from post traumatic conditions, the first step is to
promote spirituality, faith in religion, sacredness and the
performance of religious rites and rituals which promote seela,
morality and good character. The second step is to develop
versatility in the dhamma and the required disciplines thereby
developing wisdom," said Kodagoda.
A new indigenous methodology to
alleviate mental suffering (counselling) and character-building
(education) has now been developed by Kodagoda. The new methodology
once evaluated was found to have positive effects. This programme
can be applied not only in Sri Lanka but also in Third World
"Known as the Cultural Clinic,
this new indigenous methodology includes the wisdom kit, a character
development kit and a learning kit that includes the basic material
required for the promotion of wisdom and character building in
children and their families," said Kodagoda.
According to Kodagoda, the wisdom kit
can also be used for children suffering from any other adverse
conditions and is known to cater to short term and long term
problems in children.
The first step in the new methodology
of the Cultural Clinic is oral counselling. "Oral counselling
is needed to remove mental problems, purify the mind and promote
other virtues of character, which develop motivation through wisdom.
Reading relevant material required for cognitive therapy has to be
carefully selected to match the needs of each child," Kodagoda
However, after many years of research
Kodagoda has proved to parents and teachers that qualities such as
love, compassion, kindness and equanimity is what should be applied
when counselling traumatic children.
"By applying my principles of
research I have proved that a basic course in counselling would not
equip a person to treat a post traumatic condition. All those who
are involved in counselling ought to note these facts,"
Kodagoda further said that reading on
how others affected by similar situations have overcome their
traumatic experiences can also help victims overcome their own
"Children once recovered from
their traumatic condition are trained in maintaining diaries that
would identify their strengths and talents to build up confidence.
Gradually they could be directed to their schoolwork for which they
would be motivated as they have by now developed the habit of
reading for versatility," said Kodagoda.
According to Kodagoda, after the
counsellors have left, these children will not be recollecting the
disaster they went through as they would have by then cultivated the
habit of active reading from the wisdom kit.
The Cultural Clinic programme is
expected to help children who have sleepless nights and nightmares
due to the after-effects of a disaster. "Such children can
overcome this problem by continuing to read relevant books. A
suitable parent or adult may be trained to operate this mechanism so
that they could in turn use it on their children suffering from post
traumatic depression," said Kodagoda.
and cricket talk...
Why is it when men who play(ed) a sport get together, they remember
every move? I am one of the few women who doesn't know the rules and
the lingo that goes with all these games, and who plays what.
Once, I carried on a long conversation
with this guy at a party thinking he was a player, only to find out
he was the physiotherapist! I was told to use my common sense, as if
cricketers were so old! I mean, he had the same blazer on and
everything like the team. I was also interrogated about my
conversation amidst hoots of derision.
Recently, I was thrust into this sporty
circle, and every time I tried to change the conversation, whoosh!
back it came to sports! To me, it sounded a lot like bragging. The
conversation roughly ran like this; "Machang, then I bowled a
left swing underarm to the right half slip, and it caught him on the
thigh, the fielder was at silly mid-off, (where all idiots are
It's all Greek to me! To me it sounds
like they are talking about ladies underwear! Occasionally, I would
throw in a flippant
remark, interrupting a group nearby...One of them kept exclaiming,
"I always thought you liked cricket!" I could see him
secretly feeling sorry for the Great Sportsman in our family, being
saddled with someone so boring!
And I suppose this obsession with balls
is because they are round and travel faster than straight edgy
things. There is a lot of running around these balls, the faster the
better! I suppose it's a good way to exercise and be in the pink of
health. I once told my husband I didn't mind swimming, gymnastics
and football. Ah, at last a ray of hope! "Why?" So I can
admire their super physiques and muscular legs! His eyes flew wide
with shock, then he snorted and laughed!
"I say, you are a hell of a one,
men!!" he said. I really don't see the point of watching the
same old boring thing over and over again. What a waste of time,
when you could read a good book, listen to some music or have a good
chat with your friend on the phone?Much more fun! Great sportsmen
can't even last a whole hour of shopping, they get tired out, and
thirsty, their feet ache and all sorts of things!
How about shopping?
Now shopping is a joyful exercise and
an absolute necessity to mankind. Unfortunately there are no
standing ovations and glory attached to this sport. I suppose it's
slightly more expensive than the duller, popular ones. The only
autograph you give is the one on your credit card slip, and I am
sure you would rather someone else signs that!
Once, I actually sat through a cricket
match at this day/night thingy. I was dragged along by my very
beautiful niece and we were to meet The Sportsperson who would
escort us to our 'Very Good Seats' in a 'Very Important Persons
As we walked in, we stood on a side
watching what was going on, someone had the audacity to tell us we
were a distraction to the players and to please go sit or else stay
out of sight! How very rude, don't you think? So we trotted along,
but got bored after a while. Like I pointed out to my husband, why
on earth did they keep hitting the ball where there were so many
fielders, when on the other side there were spaces with no one in
I was told quickly not to make loud and
foolish comments like this, the people round about might hear, and
imagine the disgrace! So then we occupied ourselves by looking
around to see if there were any good looking guys around. We were
kept entertained by a group of foreign supporters having a slanging
match with the locals. Finally, accidentally, a local chappie threw
an empty bottle downstairs and was escorted outside by his collar!
After that it was bo..o..ring. Then at
half time, our skipper rejected the light repast offered, and
demanded biriyani. We are not foreigners, he said, we want to eat
like Sri Lankans (did he mean over eat, stuffed to the gills?) or
else, we can't play.
Pandemonium, calls were furiously made
(with us shouting rude comments on the side) and the poor, hungry
boys were fed! I can't remember the outcome of this match, but we
took a long, long time to drive out. To date, I am a Sports
- Honky Tonk Woman
closer look at Sri Lanka's craft heritage
work to suit the demands of the customers...
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Sri Lanka has a proud heritage of traditional crafts and arts. These products
are a result of age-old techniques, indigenous raw materials and
tools made of natural material as well.
The origins of the craftsmen in Sri
Lanka are closely interwoven with legend and "vishvakarma"
is referred to as the divine architect and lord of arts and crafts
and also considered to be the mythical ancestor of Kammalars (early
Studies on early crafts have shown that
Kammalars after gradually migrating towards South Indian areas have
then traversed to other regions including Sri Lanka, Myanmar,
It is interesting to note that there
exists a distinct similarity in the motifs of handicrafts and
decorative arts in the South Asian region.
A description on the country's
historical background with regard to arts and crafts says that Sri
Lankan history has recorded several incidents of migration and
settlements of craftsmen from India.
The first such incident has been
recorded in the Mahabodhi Vansa - a Buddhist chronicle, which
records the arrival of the sacred Bo sapling along with Theree
Sanghamitta from India during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa.
According to the chronicle, craftsmen belonging to 21 castes
accompanied Theree Sanghamitta on the journey.
These craftsmen are believed to have
mingled with the indigenous people in the country, which resulted in
the formation of traditional craft guilds.
During the Kandyan period, craftsmen
occupied an important position in society and the main families were
affluent with considerable wealth in the form of lands received as
In order to streamline the
administration system, craftsmen during the Kandyan era were
organised under the Kottalabadda or the Royal Artifices Department.
This department comprised of gold and silversmiths, blacksmiths,
painters, wood craftsmen, ivory carvers, etc., working closely with
According to Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy,
the Hatara Korale Province consisted of seven wood craftsmen, five
wood turners, five painters, 17 arrow makers, 14 who executed fine
work and ornamenting and inlaying locks, guns, knives, etc. with
gold, silver and brass, four gold, silver and copper smiths, one
stone worker or mason and 20 blacksmiths who executed regular iron
The best of the higher craftsmen
including gold and silversmiths, painters and ivory carvers, etc.,
working for the king formed a close and largely hereditary
coorporation of artificers called the Pattal Hathara (for work
yards); Abharana Pattalaya (jewellery workshop); Otunu Pattalaya
(crown workshop); Sinhasana Pattalaya (throne workshop) and Rankadu
Pattalaya (golden sword workshop).
With such a background, the country
boasts of a rich and varied heritage of traditional arts and crafts.
The products of age-old techniques, tools of natural and indigenous
raw materials, Sri Lanka's handicrafts are fashioned in the cottages
of craftsmen and women or in rural crafts centres and incorporate a
legacy of centuries of inbred skill.
The ancient Indo-Aryan social system of
Sri Lanka assigned certain trades and pursuits to specific
socio-economic groups or castes; it was within these castes that
traditional skills were preserved with a high degree of purity and a
distinct ethnic identity. With increasing demand from export
markets, Sri Lankan handicrafts have been able to successfully
combine certain modern trends which are much sought after.
Sri Lankan handicrafts display an
interesting degree of regional specialisation based largely on the
availability of the natural raw materials used as well as historical
factors such as royal patronage in the past and demand patterns.
With much emphasis now being laid on
eco-friendly, hand made items, handicrafts have yet again surfaced
in the local market for those eager to go all 'ethnic'- the 'in'
thing at present.
Craftsmen however are now faced with
the challenge of manufacturing products to suit the local market.
Consultant, Small and Rural Industries
Ministry, Sarath Soorasena observed the importance of introducing
new design concepts for the upliftment of the local handicrafts
Soorasena explained that handicrafts
are currently manufactured to suit the needs of a bygone era, adding
that the life cycles of the present designs ended several years ago.
Defining the word "design,"
Soorasena says it is not decorating a product, but manufacturing a
product keeping in mind the whole process in presenting the final
product and making sure it fits the present requirements of the
The National Crafts Council (NCC) under
the guidance of the Small and Rural Industries Ministry has taken
steps to uplift the craft industry and spotlight them in the
Chairman, NCC, M. G. Dhammasena
observed that they are now in the process of uplifting the industry
to bring it on par with international levels.
As a starting point, NCC has
categorised local crafts into nine categories. Dhammasena noted that
earlier local crafts were scattered into 20 odd categories. The nine
categories are - earthern ware and pottery, fibre craft and
basketry, metal craft forms, crafts associated with performing arts
and festivities, jewellery, textile and textile applied crafts, wood
craft and lacquered turnery, animal based crafts and miscellaneous
The NCC while addressing issues related
to the development of the industry also looks into matters related
to the lives of the craftsmen and women.
According to Dhammasena, the previously
prevalent ad hoc method of providing for the industry has been
replaced by longer term solutions. "The market is there, we
have to manufacture products to fit the needs of the people,"
Talking her way to success
receiving the trophy after wining the
All Island Speech Contest Final
By Eswaran Rutnam
She is young, talented, and
ambitious. But you ask her and she says her biggest asset is
her "big mouth."
Well it's that big mouth that won
16-year-old Fathima Zahrah Cader the championship at the Colombo
Toastmasters All Island Young Speakers Contest for The Lyceum
Challenge Trophy 2005.
The Sunday Leader caught up with the
champion from St. Bridgets Convent, Colombo while she was relaxing
at home with her family.
After introducing herself and talking a
bit about the shock she got when the announcer at the speech contest
said; "and the winner is Fathima Zahrah Cader," the young
girl explained that her ambition is to use her prize wining speech
skills to make a difference here in Sri Lanka and hopefully someday
in the world.
"I want to be in the United
Nations and make a change. I want to be heard and I believe I have
the mouth to do it," said a confident Zahrah.
The fourth in a family of five girls,
Zahrah humbly says that she attributes her success in the speech
contest finals to the support of her family, especially her eldest
sister, Aaysha Cader.
"Aaysha pushed me from the start
and encouraged me all the way," said a happy Zahrah.
She has been involved in speech
competitions since she was very young and cultivated it to reach the
top and make a mark, something that she is very proud of.
Zahrah says most of her life she has
been in the shadow of Aaysha, who topped in almost everything she
"At least now people will know me
as Zahrah Cader and not Aasyha's sister. Although I must say I adore
Aaysha, who is now studying medicine in Bangladesh," says the
girl who people see as a carbon copy of the elder sister.
Zahrah, like her elder sister, cares
for others and wants to help the needy in any possible way.
She was part of the organising
committee of a youth tsunami walk two weeks ago and her affection
towards her family and friends became clear when she got a call
during our discussion that her little sister had won an event at the
school sports meet.
She clapped her hands in joy and
celebrated the achievement with her mother before returning to our
Zahrah received Rs. 100,000 for winning
the speech contest final and donated most of it for tsunami relief
while she also ensured she got gifts for her parents and sisters.
Zahrah, who says she has absolutely no
regrets in her life so far, wants to be a psychologist someday while
she has also set her sights in doing a little bit of broadcasting.
Her motto in life is; Whatever happens,
it happens for the best!
So watchout Sri Lanka, you are bound to
hear more from Fathima Zahrah Cader in the near future.